Public participation is typically the most important component of any planning process. It can be broad in scope, such as a master plan community attitude survey, or for a specific purpose such as a community meeting to get feedback on a particular issue. North Country Council (NCC) staff has expertise in a variety of public participation tools such as survey development, meeting facilitation, and uses of newer web-based technologies to engage younger members of the community.

Community Attitude Survey

A written survey provides a chance for input on an issue by those who are unable to attend meetings or those who are uncomfortable speaking up at public meetings, as well as nonresident property owners.  If desired, communities can contract with NCC to have a survey developed by experienced professional staff with input by the planning board or other committee. A survey is typically distributed by the municipality in conjunction with another mailing or with the help of other local groups. Compilation of the results can be done by the community or by NCC depending on the community’s budget for the project.

Meeting Facilitation

Organizations hold occasional meetings or special events as needed to help generate ideas and address issues. Many organizations prefer having an objective outside entity with knowledge of the area perform the duties of facilitator. Municipal boards may sometimes find a facilitator helpful to assist the community in working through a particular issue. North Country Council (NCC) staff includes individuals with training and experience in meeting facilitation. NCC’s role is flexible and can include, in addition to meeting facilitation, taking notes and developing a summary report to be sent to the organization after the completion of the meeting.

Emerging Technologies

As more and more residents of the North Country have internet access, use of on-line tools for engaging the public is increasing. North Country Council staff can help municipalities and partner nonprofits develop on-line surveys, wikis and blogs, or tomorrow’s avenues to reach the decision-makers of the future.